The cuts will be “uniformly ill received” by partner countries, many of which give substantially higher contributions to the Fulbright Program than the US government
The 13% funding cut announced earlier this month, will see funds mostly focused on “resources on South-East Asia and sub-Saharan Africa”, the budget states.
It allocates the funds to a number of government initiatives, including $10 million for a new Young South-East Asian Leaders Initiative and $20 million for the existing Young African Leaders Initiative, an increase of $19 million.
However, Dr. Lonnie Johnson, Executive Director of Fulbright’s Austrian-American Educational Commission in Vienna, described the cut as “unprecedented and inexplicable” in a strongly-worded open letter to the global Fulbright community.
“Although the details of how the $30 million cut might be divided up among world regions and countries therein have not yet been discussed, it will deprive thousands of foreign students and scholars from the opportunity to study, teach, or do research in the United States under the auspices of the Fulbright Program and thousands of US students and scholars to the same abroad,” she writes.
Johnson argues that programming in Africa and Asia are classic USAID territory and it is “completely incomprehensible” why the Fulbright Program “has been singled out as the best or the most logical or the only possible source of funding for these initiatives”.
She warned that the cuts would be “uniformly ill received” by partner countries, many of which give substantially higher contributions to the Fulbright Program than the US government, given that they “go substantially beyond the ones that have been recently made with the routine justification of ‘budgetary constraints'”.
Johnson has urged alumni to write to their Representatives and Senators, as well as their countries’ binational Fulbright commissions where applicable, to lobby the House and Senate Appropriations Committees to revise the proposals.
Supporters of the campaign are tweeting their support using the hashtag #SaveFulbright.
The House Appropriations Subcommittee will begin its deliberations to finalise the budget on April 4.
“Let us collectively seize this opportunity to participate in the democratic process and make our many voices heard,” Johnson urged. “Time is of the essence!”